- 1 pound broccoli rabe
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta or another shape if you prefer
Cut the rabe in half lengthwise, separating the stems from the leaves. Parboil all of the rabe (stems and leaves) in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook about 5 minutes, or until bright green and tender. Drain and cool slightly.
Separate the leaves from the stems, reserving the stems for another use or snack on them while finishing the recipe. Remove most of the liquid from the remaining rate. You should have about 2 cups of cooked rabe. Transfer to a food processor.
Cook the onion and fennel in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and walnuts. Continue to cook 5 more minutes. Cool slightly. Add the mixture to the food processor. Pulse until finely ground, but not completely pureed. Return the rabe pesto to the skillet.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Remove about a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the rabe pesto. Toss until the pasta is coated, adding splashes of the reserved pasta water as necessary. Stir in the cheese, if using. Season with salt to taste. Generously season with fresh ground pepper. Makes 6 servings.